Oct 12, 2009

The Romance Reader

The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham

My rating: 3 stars

Quick overview: This is a story about Rachel, a teenage girl growing up in a Hasidic Jewish community in New York. She's struggling with what she wants to do and what her faith and her parents will let her do. She secretly reads goyish (non-Jewish) books, and dreams of having a life doing more than her mother who has seven kids. The author takes you through her inner turmoil with what she wants to do, what she's allowed to do, and what she thinks is expected of her.

I actually don't like the title of this book. I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but the title gives you the impression it's a romance novel and it's not that at all. Rachel is quite the rebel - I immediately like her. Her father only wants her to read Jewish books, so she sneaks getting a library card, and sometimes even steals books from stores and other people's homes in order to read "normal" books, most of which are romance novels. That's the only part of romance that really comes into play.

The book is broken up into three parts - I liked all of them, but once I got to the second part I thought it was a lot easier to read and flowed better. However, for as much as Rachel rebelled, I felt like the end of the book was building to a really big rebellion and in a way it did (I don't want to give anything away), but then the story ended. I was hoping to see more of her life after she makes a few decisions, and what exactly she was planning to do, but the story just stopped. I guess the point is that she made some decisions for her. However, for as long as it took for the story to pick up momentum, I thought the ending was almost a letdown.

I did like the story - and the author grew up in a Hasidic community so there were definitely times during this story when I was wondering if this was loosely based on her life. Overall I would recommend this to read, but know it takes awhile to get into it.

(Photo: Elseachelsea via Brown Button)

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